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The Makoke Trail: Birding in Des Moines
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The Makoke Trail: Birding in Des Moines

Wildlife-orientated holidays are increasing in popularity, and if you enjoy bird watching, Iowa is a great place to visit.  ‘Birding’ is now the largest outdoor activity in the US, and there are great birding trails you can check out in Iowa.  Birding trails are actually popular birding sites linked by road and grouped together colloquially as a ‘trail’.

The Makoke Trail

The Makoke Trail is situated near Des Moines and links 22 of the region’s best birding sites.  Every site includes easy access to fabulous viewing spots all of which are clearly marked with Makoke Trail and Watchable Wildlife Area signage. 

The Makoke Trail was originally founded in 2009 as collaboration between Polk County Conservation Board, Iowa DNR, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service and US Army Corps of Engineers among others.

A guide book is available which includes information on the best viewing sites and visitor centre locations.  Maps are included which give details of each area’s habitat, species to look out for and the best seasons in which to visit.  There’s also a comprehensive list of the 304 different bird species that you can expect to see when visiting the region.  Copies of the guide are free and can be found at visitor centres along the trail.  There’s also an online version.

You can also see other wildlife along the trails which are also popular with hikers.  The trails are open all year round, although it’s worth checking out the guide to find out which are best to visit for prime birding opportunities during the different seasons.  Remember to take binoculars with you and a notepad so that you can record the different species of birds you spot. 

In conclusion

For nature lovers, no holiday in Iowa would be complete without a day spent meandering along the Des Moines Makoke Trail. 



Leave a Comment

  1. Travel Iowa Team
    Travel Iowa Team
    Thanks for a great post, Alison! We pinned it:
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